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What is Carrying a Pistol without a License in DC?

carrying a pistol without a licenseCarrying a pistol without a license in DC is defined as possession of a firearm either openly or concealed on or about your person without a license issued by the District of Columbia.  It is codified in the DC Code § 22–4504.

Can you carry a handgun in DC?

No, you can not carry a handgun in DC unless you have a license issued by the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC.

What is the Maximum Penalty for Carrying a Pistol Without A License in the District of Columbia

The maximum penalty for carrying a pistol without a license in the District of Columbia is 5 years and/or $12,500.0 fine.  If the pistol is recovered in your home or business the maximum penalty is 1 year and/or $2500.00 dollar fine.   

Can I be charged with carrying pistol without a license if I have a license to carry in another State?

Yes, in fact this is very common in the District of Columbia for people to think that they have the right to carry a firearm in the District of Columbia because they have a license to carry in their Home State.    For example, people from Virginia or Maryland come into DC, thereafter, stopped by the police and admit to having a gun in the car.  You will be charged with carrying a pistol without a license unless you meet an exception such as the law enforcement officer from another State.  Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 926B, only qualified law enforcement may possess a pistol on their person in the District of Columbia.   Qualified law enforcement is defined as:

  • Qualified law enforcement
  • qualified retired or separated law enforcement officer

If you not law enforcement the only way you could possess a pistol in the District of Columbia would be to go Metropolitan Police Department before you enter the District of Columbia with the firearm and request a license.    You would make the request pursuant to DC municipal regulation of the District of Columbia.   

Is Carrying a Pistol without a license in DC a Felony?

Yes, if the gun is recovered on your person and you are not at your home or place of business it is Felony.  If however, the gun is recovered inside your home it is misdemeanor.  

What happens If I am Charged with carrying a pistol without a license in DC

If you are arrested for carrying a pistol without a license you could be held at DC Jail for 3 days (mandatory hold).   However, the U.S. Attorneys Office generally does not ask for the mandatory hold(no bond) if it is shown that you have a license to possess a gun in another jurisdiction.   They will still charge you though.   After the initial presentment, the case will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing.  In order for the Prosecutor to proceed after the preliminary hearing the case will have to be indicted.  For a further explanation of what happens please download our Free Criminal Law Book.

So If I am Charged with carrying a pistol without a license how is it resolved?

I can tell you as a practicing criminal lawyer in the District of Columbia, the United States Attorney Office for the District of Columbia takes these charges very serious.   The defense lawyer has to advocate to the prosecutor regarding resolutions that make sense.   The biggest thing, we do not want our clients to have a felony on their record because they did not know the law in the District of Columbia.  Lets face it if you are convicted of this charge you would not be permitted to carry a firearm in your home State.  You would be barred by Federal law if you were convicted of this crime from possessing a firearm in the future.    That is why you need a good defense lawyer.  

Will I go to jail for carrying a pistol without a license

So, there a lot of factors that go into that decision.  However, most people with no prior record would be eligible for probation pursuant to the District of Columbia Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines.    Furthermore, most cases can be litigated (or tried) that can result in more favorable dispositions.   

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